Carbon Monoxide (CO). Colourless, odourless, tasteless and potentially lethal.

The molecule contains a triple bond between carbon and oxygen. The triple bond makes it very hard to break (due to the high bond enthalpy).

Carbon Monoxide can also permanently bind to haemoglobin, rendering the molecule biologically useless and not allowing oxygen to bind to the haemoglobin. If enough carbon monoxide gets into your blood, the bodies oxygen carrying capacity will be greatly reduced and you could literally, suffocate.

Given that its molecular mass is 28, it mixes well with air (containing oxygen, Mr = 32 and nitrogen, Mr= 28) and this means that if it is present in a closed space (ie, a room) it will not diffuse to the top or bottom, rather, it will mix in with the nitrogen and oxygen.

Carbon monoxide is made during incomplete combustion of fuels, often when a fuel is burnt in enclosed space or when a fuel does not get enough oxygen (eg, a fire in a fireplace that contain a partially blocked chimney) and is a known killer.

Toxicity doses are mentioned in ppm or parts per million and this will be dealt with in tomorrows blog posting.